Who Are We
Ian chose to develop this specialist advisory service, based on its own working and formulated solutions, designed after decades of experience in dealing with frontier market challenges and with a belief that well informed well delivered investments and models can deliver the growth that investors crave and engineer the shift to sustainability the world so desperately needs.
Founder and CEO
Ian Saunders recently moved from Kenya, East Africa to the UK after several decades living in the African bush bordering the Tsavo National Park. He is a former member of British Army, holds an (Hons) Degree in Wildlife Conservation and Management from the University of East London (UK) and undertook postgraduate studies at the African College of Wildlife Management, Mweka, Tanzania.
Ian has spent much of his life working in Africa, the Middle/Near East and Central Asia, often during periods of crisis and conflict. Over the past thirty years, he has held positions of responsibility in the following fields: private business, government, international conflict security, strategic rural stabilization and development, disaster management, cultural and political liaison, wildlife conservation and environmental education.
Ian has worked in the business sector and at the strategic and operational levels with international NGOs and governments in Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia.
In East Africa, over a period of three years, Ian recruited, trained and operated long-range anti-poaching teams to combat illegal activities in remote protected areas in Tanzania. This was a donor funded operation working in conjunction with the Tanzania Wildlife Division to augment existing government operations, in particular to combat the threat from organized criminal gangs and Rwandan insurgents who had based themselves amongst the populations living in large refugee camps in western Tanzania directly after the Rwandan genocide. This operation was the largest private anti-poaching operation in Africa at the time.
In Afghanistan, he operated as an advisor both in a hands-on capacity as well as in an analytical capacity through sitting on the Security Analyst Committee (SAC), a coalition forces committee based in Kabul.
As a member of the United Nations Assistance Mission to Afghanistan (UNAMA) Ian’s initial role was in the promotion of democratic awareness and acceptance through engaging with rural Afghan leaders and developing strategic working relationships. Later he was responsible for planning and implementing the security and logistics plan for Kabul City and the districts of Kabul’s rural provinces during the first Afghan presidential elections in 2004. He was also concurrently a key player in the ISAF/NATO security implementation and planning team. Ian was known for his personal Afghan network not only within the city of Kabul but in the many rural areas across the country. Later he operated in a liaison capacity between various international agencies, Afghan officials and rural communities with whom he had spent time living.
From a strategic perspective, Ian has studied the business, political and social implications of the environment and development nexus in Africa and Central Asia and investigated wider aspects such as funding and illegal resource use. Ian has twice testified at US Congressional Hearing’s regarding the security and social implications of international wildlife crime, particularly the use of ivory as a resource for funding terrorism. Ian has facilitated initial discussions and meetings with the Royal Institute of International Affairs (Chatham House) on the international illegal bushmeat trade and its relevance to the UK. He is a scientific fellow of the Royal Zoological Society, London and a member of the TE Lawrence Society in Oxford.
As Vice President of the African Environmental Film Foundation (AEFF) Ian has been closely involved with the production of over twenty educational films focusing on environmental awareness and best practice which have been distributed across Africa to an audience of several hundred million people. The film “White Gold”, which Ian co-wrote and co-produced was a finalist at the Jackson Hole Wildlife Film festival.
Ian was an Honorary Warden for the Kenyan National Wildlife Agency the Kenya Wildlife Service, a member of the technical board of the Kenya Wildlife Conservancies Association and a founding member of the Tsavo Conservation Group (TsavoCon), a Kenyan not for profit organization, that worked in support of wildlife, habitat and communities in Kenya’s expansive and strategically important Tsavo region.
As a co-founder and Chief Operations Officer of TsavoCon Ian was responsible for the creation and development of one of Africa’s largest Community Wildlife Conservancies, the new Malkahalaku Conservancy in the remote, harsh and lawless Orma area in Eastern Kenya, an area under threat from Somali based armed insurgents. The development of this 1.2-million-acre conservancy demonstrated important results with the identification and mitigation of violent activity and ivory poaching activity through engaging and influencing gang leaders their gangs, middlemen and the political dimension. Over the five-years of the TsavoCon project in Malkahalaku not a single elephant was killed by poachers, this in an area in which Kenya’s largest single elephant poaching incident had previously occurred.
During this period Ian was also requested to act as the security and conservation advisor to the Tana River County Governor, Hussain Dado who also sat as the Chair of the National Council of Governors Security Committee. Ian and the Governor jointly addressed both the Royal United Services Institute in London and The Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Washington DC on their stabilisation approach in high risk rural environments.